A U.K. reality TV star who was on holiday with his girlfriend in Papua New Guinea claims they were captured by cannibals while they were walking through the jungle.
Matthew Iovane, who appeared in a previous series of Channel 4 survival show Shipwrecked, told The Sun that he and his American girlfriend Michelle Clemens were attacked by “natives with machetes.”
“We’d joked about the famous cannibals of Papua New Guinea’s jungle but it was no laughing matter when these men came out of the bush,” said Iovane. “They looked very scary in native costumes and what looked like warpaint and came closer before circling around us.
“They tore up my T-shirt to blindfold me and the awful thought crossed my mind that we could be on the menu,” he continued. “They were totally feral and we were at their mercy. I thought we’d vanish into the jungle and never be seen again.”
According to Iovane, the couple were tied up, stripped naked and beaten. Clemens was repeatedly attacked, had her fingers sliced to the bone by a machete and they heard the cannibals use the words: “We will kill you.”
If you’re wondering, quite rightly, why the couple were wandering around by themselves in a jungle known for cannibalism, Iovane says they had hired a native to help them navigate but that he “peeled off before the final day” and they are now convinced he betrayed them.
Clearly the couple have survived to tell the tale but how? They say they escaped as “they were being marched along a ridge back towards the trail” (also escaping a pack of wild dogs and a patch of poison ivy on the way) and eventually found a man who called for help.
“They took our belongings, I was naked in the most remote jungle on Earth with no shoes and Michelle was bleeding buckets beside me in her underwear,” said Iovane. “But nothing mattered except getting away, so we ran.”
Villagers came to their aid with blankets and a rescue helicopter was scrambled from the capital Port Moresby, where Iovane and Clemens are now recovering.
If you’re sceptical about this tale bear in mind that cases of cannibalism on Papua New Guinea have been reported as recently as 2012. According to The Sun, some natives are also thought to follow a tradition of feasting on family members’ brains at funerals.
The story has also been confirmed by British consular officials, who said they were assisting the couple and taking the matter “very seriously.”